What does central office fight say about value of education?

  • Posted: Saturday, August 31, 2013 12:05 a.m.

From Rev. Rhodes Woolly, senior pastor of St. John’s Lutheran Church, writing in the church’s Faith+Life email to parishioners:

Today, the city withdrew its application for a new central school office in downtown Salisbury. I’m sure you’ve been following the (embarrassing) drama these last few years. At this moment, I suppose, a few of our county leaders are jumping for joy.

Let me be clear: The future of our public school system in Rowan County is not dependent on a downtown central office. But it is dependent on leaders who place great value in public education as the No. 1 tool in building a better county for all of our citizens. There is no better indicator of a community’s future than the quality of its schools today. I have yet to hear our commissioners talk about building a quality school system, only a cheap one.

There’s more. At the core of this debate is an issue of social justice. How are we to expect our schools to educate when 29 percent of the children walking through their doors live below the poverty line? ... 29 percent. Let that number sink in. Is it possible to give full attention to a math assignment when you’re hungry? Is it possible to complete all of your homework assignments when you’re one of the Knox Middle School families who has to check in each night at Rowan Helping Ministries so that you have a place to sleep? Is it possible to “walk the track” during PE when you’re one of those students who doesn’t have a winter coat to bring to school? We wonder why our third graders aren’t reading at grade level. Let me spell out the No. 1 reason: POVERTY.

Poverty is real in our community ... but I have yet to hear one of our community leaders give it the attention it deserves. In the midst of the whining and bullying and politicking that’s surrounded the central office debate, I’ve yet to hear a commissioner — with one exception, Jon Barber — say, “Friends, we need to step up to the plate and do whatever we can to relieve poverty and illiteracy in our county.”

Without their leadership, others must step up to the plate. And that certainly includes the church. What does that look like? I’m not yet sure, but I know it’s time. If you agree I’d love to hear your input.

In the meantime, let’s pray for wise, compassionate, Christ-like leadership in our community. 

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